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August 25, 2016
First Person: It doesn’t matter how ‘proficient’ a potential teacher is. Here’s what we look for instead
The authors say they don't judge potential teachers by their excellence, but rather how open they are to rethinking their approach.
July 10, 2012
Judge rules that city must reinstate staff at turnaround schools
Lawyers for the UFT spoke to reporters about the union's short-term court victory outside of New York State Supreme Court today. Legal battles between the city and the United Federation of Teachers are typically long, drawn-out affairs. Not today. In just 40 minutes this afternoon, Judge Joan Lobis of the New York State Supreme Court made up her mind about the city's request to suspend an arbitrator's ruling in the UFT's favor while she considers the city's formal appeal. There will be no restraining order, Lobis ruled. That means that hiring and firing decisions that have been made at 24 struggling schools that the city was trying to overhaul will be reversed. The Department of Education will have to reinstate hundreds — and possibly thousands — of teachers and administrators cut loose from the schools as part of the "turnaround" process. "They no longer have an excuse for not complying with the arbitrator's award," Ross said about the city. Asked by reporters about the education department's immediate plans for allowing the teachers to reclaim their positions, Deputy Chancellor Marc Sternberg said, "Talk to the law department." The city's top lawyer, Michael Cardozo, said in a statement that he was confident that Lobis would side with the city as the case moves forward. The hearing was a first step in the city's appeal of a ruling handed down two weeks ago by an arbitrator who found that the city's hiring and firing decisions — a key aspect of the Department of Education's turnaround plans — violated the city's contract with the teachers union.
July 6, 2012
Arbitrator: City used "circular reasoning" to justify turnarounds
Mayor Michael Bloomberg's testimony before an arbitrator drove one nail into the coffin of the city's plans to replace or rehire teachers at 24 "turnaround" schools. Last week an arbitrator determined that the city violated the city's contracts with the teachers and principals unions when it moved to replace staff members at the schools. This afternoon the arbitrator, Scott Buchheit, released a detailed explanation of why he ruled the way he did. The city was trying to use hiring procedures set for closing schools and their replacements. But the unions argued that the turnaround plans were "sham closures" that would not result in new schools. Instead, they argued, the city was unfairly using contractual provisions about "excessing" to remove teachers and administrators it deemed unsatisfactory. In upholding the unions' grievance, Buchheit at times turns Bloomberg's and other city officials' words against them. He quotes a 2011 memorandum written by the Department of Education's chief financial officer, which said, "excessing is not a permissible way to deal with unsatisfactory teachers." Yet city officials said they intended to do just that from the start of the turnaround process, Buchheit determined.
May 9, 2012
Officials: Temporary stay on turnarounds could derail process
City officials are fretting that even a temporary halt to hiring at 24 turnaround schools will weaken their ability to carry out a key piece of the improvement strategy for those schools: recruiting top-quality teachers. On Tuesday, when the Department of Education agreed to halt hiring in the schools for at least a week during the first round of a union lawsuit, officials said no hiring would be happening yet anyway. But they are worried about what would happen if Judge Joan Lobis grants a temporary restraining order extending the freeze, as she did two years ago when a union lawsuit over school closures came before her. If that freeze extends into June, officials say it could hurt the schools' chances of attracting and retaining the most qualified teachers in the applicant pool. When the judge decides whether to grant a temporary restraining order, she will weigh the likelihood that the unions' case has merits — but not the merits themselves — and also the likelihood that a delay would harm the schools. Department officials seem likely to argue that the schools would not be able to recover from a slowdown because teachers may not be able to hold out until June if they receive other job offers before then. But the request for a restraining order is not unexpected: The UFT vowed to sue almost as soon as Mayor Bloomberg announced the turnaround plans in January, and seeking a temporary restraining order is the first step in many legal fights over school policy.
September 6, 2011
Comptroller's audit criticizes city's handling of ATR pool
Chart from Comptroller John Liu's audit of the Absent Teacher Reserve. The Department of Education could potentially be doing more to help teachers whose positions have been eliminated find new jobs. That's one conclusion of an audit conducted by Comptroller John Liu of the DOE's efforts to help members of the Absent Teacher Reserve, the pool of teachers whose jobs were lost to budget cuts, enrollment changes, or school closures. The audit concluded that the vast majority of ATRs — 95 percent — are working full-time in teaching jobs, but that the department doesn't maintain data sufficient to conclude whether its efforts to help the teachers find permanent positions are paying off. "Without such information, we believe that DOE is significantly hindered in its ability to evaluate the success of its efforts in helping ATR teachers find permanent positions," the report concludes. The audit is not meant to dictate policy and is intended only to draw attention to what the report said was an information gap within the DOE on the ATR pool. But an unwritten conclusion also seems to be that the city is wasting money by hiring new teachers when ATRs are licensed to do the job.
August 17, 2011
As hiring freeze thaws, more new teachers enter city classrooms
For the first time since the city imposed a hiring freeze two years ago, the number of teachers entering the classroom from alternative certification programs has risen. While some senior teachers worry about finding positions, two prominent organizations, Teach For America and New York City's Teaching Fellows, are contributing hundreds of new teachers to the city's teaching force. The organizations estimate that they will bring about 800 new teachers into classrooms this fall. That would be 25 percent more than last year, when the groups brought on just under 650 new teachers, about 2,000 less than in 2006. The dropoff began in 2009, when the Department of Education enacted restrictions limiting most hiring to teachers who were already in the system. The policy severely curtailed recruitment plans for TFA and Teaching Fellows and in a matter of two years, both were producing just a few hundred teachers per year. Most of those teachers worked in shortage areas, such as science and special education. Now, as the city has eased some longstanding hiring restrictions in new subjects, those numbers are inching back up in response to demand.
June 2, 2010
In a sea of applicants, a $500 bounty for top-tier teachers
Secretary of Education Arne Duncan with students, parents, and teachers from Explore Charter School during a visit to the school in February 2009 Explore Charter School CEO Morty Ballen has hundreds of teachers knocking at the doors of his Brooklyn charter schools, hoping to get a job. Yet to find the right person, Ballen has put out a bounty notice. For the past several years, Ballen has offered a $500 finder's fee to anyone who refers a candidate he ends up hiring at either of his two charter schools, Empower and Explore. With over 300 applicants for about two dozen vacancies this year, it may seem like an odd choice to pay people to find more teacher-hopefuls, but Ballen said it's a good way to discover "diamonds in the rough." "There are just not enough outstanding teachers who can meet the needs of kids we’re teaching," Ballen said. "Every year it’s a nail biter to get outstanding teachers who can do a great job." Most of the reward money has gone to teachers at his own schools who've suggested other teachers they know, he said. "The teachers who are most successful here know this community and one great source is the folks who are referred by members of the community because they know our culture," he said.
July 21, 2009
Final Report Card for the Open Market
It has now been six weeks since I found out I was being excessed and two weeks since I found a new job. Throughout the process of my job search I relied entirely on the Open Market Hiring System run through the NYC Schools web site. The fact I was hired relatively quickly and easily implies the system is a success, but that doesn't mean we can't examine it a bit deeper. First I'll give some background on the Open Market system, then some number from my search, and finally my unofficial report card for the Open Market. The Open Market Hiring System can be found by clicking through the careers section of the NYC schools web site. It’s designed to allow any NYC schools employee from teachers to guidance counselors to search for open positions within the system. Using your employee ID it doesn’t take more than few minutes to create an account. From there you can create an application with your basic information, a cover letter and resume, and begin your search for open positions. The day I found out I was excessed I went straight to the web site, created an account, and within an hour or so I’d already applied to more than 20 schools. A look at my job search by the numbers: Total time spent on Open Market web site: Approx. 3 hours Total number of positions applied for: 49 Total number of interviews offered: 3
July 2, 2009
On hiring issues, DOE acts as if mayor's control never expired
It may be a new day and a new system, but at Tweed the plan for handling mayoral control's expiration is to act as though it never happened. When Department of Education officials began considering what the system would look like if mayoral control expired, they envisioned anarchy. (At least when talking to the press.) An internal memo released to reporters described a complete breakdown of the power structure, such that no one would have the legal authority to hire or fire teachers. That concern appears to have been cast aside. In the days following the law's expiration, the DOE has tried to make as few changes as possible to the school governance system. The issue at the heart of the confusion is the legal status of community superintendents.
May 6, 2009
No new hires, a cash-strapped DOE instructed principals today
Responding to shrinking budgets and rising costs, the Department of Education is putting in place what amounts to a systemwide teacher hiring freeze, Schools Chancellor Joel Klein informed principals today. Individual schools will still be able to use their budgets to add new teachers if they are able, but the DOE is planning to cut school budgets so far that many schools will have to shed teachers, DOE officials revealed. And any new hires, to replace teachers who leave, will have to come from teachers who are already in the system, according to new rules the department is implementing. Klein informed principals about the hiring restrictions, which the department says should allow it to avoid actually laying off teachers, this morning during a Webcast and just now in a memo, which is included at the end of this post. The department is planning to give principals more detailed information about their schools' budgets during the week of May 18. Speaking to reporters today, a top DOE official, Photeine Anagnostopoulos, said she could not predict how many schools would need to eliminate teachers but said that a "high percentage" might be able to cut their budgets sufficiently by reducing non-teaching staff and axing programs. She said "the goal" for the department is for all schools to make the same percentage cut to their budgets. That size of that cut has not yet been finalized, she said, adding that principals would ultimately have discretion about how to cut their own budgets. The new restrictions require principals to fill vacancies created by attrition by picking up current teachers who are either in a classroom elsewhere in the city or in the existing pool of excessed teachers, which already includes about 1,100 teachers.
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